In ancient Greece three types of columns can be found; Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian. All three types of columns have three separate parts to their structure (base, shaft, and capital) with the exception of Doric which has no base. The base is all one piece as well as the capital. The shaft is composed of several pieces which fit together in a tongue-and-groove type of securing. Columns were constructed in a raw fashion first before the final product was produced
Of the three columns found in Greece, Doric columns are the most basic and undecorative, with a square and circular capital and a plain 20 sided shaft. There is no base to spruce up this basic design which leaves this column with a very straight-forward but powerful presence in its design. During the early sixth century B.C., Doric columns were shorter compared to their height and diameter. Doric capitals showed an evolution from a broad flaring to a more compact form. Doric, like most Greek styles, emitted a strong horizontal presence in its architectural design. The area above the columns, the frieze and architrave, had no set style and is found to have a wide variety only following the simple pattern shown in the image file. The metope,separated by triglyphs, housed sculpted drawings of history, myths, religous events, etc.
Click to see an illustration of the Doric style
Ionic columns were taller than Doric compared to their height, and also had what is called entasis; which is a convex swelling to prevent an illusion of concavity in a column shaft. The bases were large and textured with a profile like that of stacked rings. Ionic capitals consist of a scroll-like portion above a decorative shaft portion. The Ionic style is a little more decorative in the capital, and also instead of the single scene drawings of the Doric style in the frieze, the Ionic had a continous band of drawings depicted. The Ionic cornice is virtually the same as its Doric counterpart with only minor differences.
Click to see an illustration of the Ionic style
The Corinthian columns are the most decorative and usually the most appealing to the modern eye. They too use entasis to correct the optical illusions of the massive Greek structures. The Corinthian capitals have flowering, leaf-like structures below a lesser scroll design than that of Ionian capitals. The shaft has indented sides and the base is a more refined version of the Ionian. Unlike the Doric and Ionian roofs, which are at a slant, the Corinthian roofs are flat. The Corinthian frieze is the same as the Ionic frieze, but on a smaller scale.
Click to see an illustration of the Corinthian style
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